This article gives advice on several different problems related to being unemployed, including ways someone who's lost a job can treat themselves and others fairly well on a tight budget, job searching, money worries, advice on explaining the job loss to any children the unemployed person has, staying healthy, relaxation, maintaining good relationships with parents and friends, and using unemployment as an opportunity to do things there isn't time for when working.
Skip past the following quotes if you'd like to get straight down to reading the article contents and self-help article.
It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose your own.
--Harry S Truman
The trouble with unemployment is that the minute you wake up in the morning you're on the job.
An "acceptable" level of unemployment means that the government economist to whom it is acceptable still has a job.
Steven thinks of saying:
The self-help book I'm reading is called The Unemployment Survival Guide. It starts off trying to be encouraging, saying that most people aren't unemployed for that long. It says people can feel as if they'll probably be unemployed forever; but actually, most people find jobs quite soon. In fact it says that finding a minimum-wage job only usually takes about three weeks. But it says it's possible that a white-collar worker could take three to six months to get another job when there are quite a number about, and maybe over a year when the economy's doing badly.
The thought of being out of work for over a year sounds depressing! But let's hope it won't be that long anyway till we get new jobs.
It's good that the authors of this book seem to understand that people are likely to get depressed.
It recommends that since the first day of unemployment might well be one of the worst days of our lives, the first day, or even the first week of unemployment, can be days when we give ourselves permission to take things easy, to slob around not getting washed or dressed all day, to eat lots of our favourite food, not bothering about the washing up, to watch exactly what we want to on television, laze around, and stay up as late as we want. It suggests we could even put a sign on the door saying something like, Happy people not welcome in here.
It recommends we don't think about the future or try to plan how to get another job at all the first day, but devote it entirely to pampering ourselves, as if we're entitled to feel sorry for ourselves and comfort ourselves over the loss of our job.
So we could have a nice long nap if we want. We can think of it as recharging our batteries, or taking time out to recover before getting back into the fray again. Or we can do other things to comfort ourselves and recharge our batteries.
This book says unemployment can be emotionally draining, and that can be tiring. A lot of people feel tired when they're unemployed. It can be stressful, because of the worries about money, and about everything related to getting a new job. When people feel emotionally drained, they feel less energetic and more tired. It's normal.
The book says some people have got a lot of enjoyment out of job-seeking, because there are quite a lot of skills involved that they've enjoyed putting to use.
So far from being depressed that our talents aren't going to be used any more in the foreseeable future, it says there are a lot of our talents we can put to work for us:
It says creativity is a skill we'll use, since it'll take some creative planning for us to work out how to use the limited amount of money we have in the best way, and to find a decent job, and to think up ways we can still enjoy life while we're finding a job.
We'll need patience not to get angry or discouraged if we don't get a job we go for, and to spend time thinking up ideas for things we can do for entertainment that don't cost much while we're looking for a job, and to spend time writing job application forms.
And we'll need to be patient with ourselves, so we don't think too badly of ourselves if we make mistakes at job interviews and things, or if we don't feel motivated to do things and then get annoyed with ourselves because we haven't done them. After all, we're bound to feel demotivated if we've lost confidence in ourselves, or haven't got any structure to our day when we've been used to having it. So we don't have to get too annoyed with ourselves, since it's understandable that we're like that.
I find it easier to discipline myself to do things if I've got deadlines than if I haven't. But I've heard other people say they're like that. So perhaps it's just a common thing that most people have problems with.
We'll also need to be patient with other people, when they criticize us for being lazy and things; so we could think of that as a challenge to try, like an endurance test where we compete against ourselves to see if we can do better than we've done before.
We might well need staying power to carry on filling out job application forms and things till we get a job. We could think of that as a challenge. If we think of staying power as a skill we have, it might help motivate us to put it into operation, to prove to ourselves that we are skilled in it.
One use of it can be to keep on the look-out for people who might be useful to us when we're searching for jobs. Maybe someone who knows us could recommend us to someone, who's got some contacts who might be useful in suggesting where we could go to find a job or offering us a job.
If we try to get a job with the help of an agency or some other organisation, we can keep nagging them to see if they've found us any suitable job vacancies to go for. If they seem slow in finding us something and we don't nag them, it's possible we might get forgotten about.
Well allright, politely ask them, not nag. We don't want them to get annoyed with us.
And it's probably a good idea to make it a routine to regularly check job vacancies in newspapers and on job-finder websites on the Internet.
And when we've had a job interview but didn't get chosen, some people recommend that we phone them up and ask them how we could have done better, because even if they criticize what we were like at the interview, it'll help us learn what to do better at the next one.
The book says we can feel a lot better if we can try to see the funny side of some of the things that happen, and also to do things that help us lighten things up and get more enjoyment out of life, like meeting a friend for coffee and a laugh after a day of job-hunting; or if we need a break for a day or so, going out for a picnic or something with the family sometimes.
We could look for funny news stories, or have competitions with the children to draw the funniest pictures, or play games with them pretending to be different things like animals or planes and things. We could probably think up all kinds of funny games to play with them once we get started. Once we get a few ideas for what we could do, it'll be easier to think up more. The book says playing silly games can keep us active and amuse us, so we feel more energetic and less stressed.
I like this idea! Actually, thinking about it, I remember when my sister's daughter was little and I was a teenager, I played some games with her that made her really laugh. One was where I'd put a jumper on, and then immediately say, "Ohh, it's too hot! It's too hot!" So I'd take it off again. But as soon as I'd done that, I'd pretend to shiver a lot and say, "Oh no! It's too cold! It's too cold!" So I'd put the jumper on again. Then after a few seconds, I'd pretend to be uncomfortable and say, "Oh! Now I'm too hot!" And I'd take the jumper off again, but then immediately pretend to shiver a lot again and say, "Oh no! It's too cold! It's too cold!" So then I'd put the jumper on again. And it would carry on like that. It really made her laugh.
I remember another game I used to play with her was one I used to use to encourage her to clean her teeth before going to bed at night. We called it the Germs Game. She really enjoyed that one as well. I'd say in a pretend alarmed voice, "The germs are coming! The germs are coming! They're coming to eat the teeth!!" She'd quickly start brushing her teeth, and while she did, I'd put on a little high-pitched voice and say things that were me pretending to be the germs in her mouth shrieking and trying to get away from the toothbrush, saying things to each other like, "Quick! Run! The toothbrush is coming! Let's get into the corners, right to the back of the teeth! Hide! Quick! Over here!" And things like that. And when she stopped brushing to spit some toothpaste and water out, I'd pretend the germs were getting bolder and crawling out again, saying things in relief and delight like, "Thank goodness for that! The toothbrush has gone! Now we can eat the teeth again! Hooray!", only to run away to the corners of her mouth squeaking in alarm when she started again. And we'd pretend that more and more were dying, until there were hardly any left. She loved it. She would often ask me if we could play it.
I suppose that wouldn't be a good game to play with someone who was a bit anxious, who might start worrying about germs, or developing an obsession with cleaning their teeth or something. But she enjoyed the game, with the funny little voices I'd put on when I pretended to be the germs, and imagining she was wielding the all-conquering toothbrush that was defeating them.
We played a few games that were good fun.
Anyway, talking about other fun things to do: We could look around for good jokes, and that kind of thing.
There are probably lots of fun things we can do that don't cost much or anything. Let's have a think in the next few days.
We can also think about what we'd really like to do in life and think of unemployment as a good opportunity to change direction in life and go for what we most want, as far as it's practical for us to.
On the other hand, it might be best to get any job we can for now, since at least then we can have more money, and pride in the fact that we're working.
If we get a job interview with a company we'd really like to work for, we can think of as many reasons as we can before we go for it why we think we'd be good at the job.
We could research the types of questions job interviewers often ask, maybe on the Internet, and maybe rehearse answering them in the few weeks before we go for interviews, and think through what we might say to interviewers, so we can answer them more confidently if we are asked them.
It's easy to get grumpy and irritable with people if we're a bit depressed, or not to have much respect for ourselves and so not make an effort to treat ourselves well or present ourselves in a good light. But the book says it's important in a hard time like this that we do try to find things that will give us more pleasure and take some of the stress out of life. When we're feeling better about ourselves, chances are, we'll be more interested in being kind to other people; and that can have benefits, because it can make them want to do nice things for us or think more highly of us. And that could work well for us as well in the end.
The book suggests a number of ways we could be nice to other people:
We could send thank you cards or letters to companies that have interviewed us, or people who've helped us get job interviews; and even though nothing might come of it, it might even influence them to look on us with more favour in future or help us again. But it could be nice to do something like that anyway, not necessarily hoping for a reward.
Also, we'll probably feel more cheerful if we try to do at least one nice thing for ourselves a day. And when we go to a job interview giving the impression of feeling cheerful and confident, job interviewers are more likely to be interested in us, because they'll want people who are confident they can do the job and cheerful to have around.
And even if it still takes some time to get a job, making sure we do at least one nice thing just for ourselves every day will cheer us up anyway.
We need to plan how we can present ourselves best on job application forms and that kind of thing, since otherwise, we could send loads and loads off that don't put us in our best light and not get a single interview. I think there are employment advisers around who can help us with writing CV's in a way that'll be most acceptable to employers. I think it's worth people asking at the job centre.
If we get an interview, we should research the company we're going for the interview with, so we can impress them with what we know about it if they ask us, and fit what we say we can offer in the job to what we've found out about what the company needs, as much as we can.
A good way of telling interviewers we're unemployed if they ask us is saying something like, "I'm working full-time on finding my next job." That should impress them more than if we just say we're unemployed, because it sounds positive.
Other things can cause feelings of grief besides someone's death. Losing our job can.
The book says that adjusting to such a dramatic change in routines, and not being able to think of ourselves as whatever we used to think of ourselves as any more, like a builder or whatever, and having a lot less money, and missing the daily contact with other people we used to have at work, might take some getting used to, and we might feel a bit depressed about it till we do. It says it's normal to feel like that, as well as feeling angry about what's happened to us.
It says it's normal to feel really bad at first, but then to feel better and better as time goes on, especially if we're doing something about the problem and taking care of our needs.
It suggests that anyone who still feels bad after a while, even though they've been finding ways to feel more respect for themselves, and keeping in contact with friends, and making their life interesting and worthwhile, might think about seeking therapy.
Even though it's normal to feel angry and resentful towards people or ourselves after we've lost a job, it's best not to, because it ruins our happiness, and it releases stress hormones into the body that can damage us physically long-term, even contributing to heart attacks and strokes.
Every minute of our lives we spend feeling resentful is a minute lost from our lives, a minute when we could have felt happy.
So even though we might have the right to feel angry, it's best to try to put our energies into moving on and doing new things with our lives, rather than into feeling resentful about the past. The more we can do things that give us hope for the future, the less we'll want to spend time feeling angry about the past.
It might help if we can start thinking of the time we worked in our last job as one of life's bonuses, rather than focusing our thoughts on the time we lost the job, although it might be difficult sometimes.
If we still feel angry about what happened, one thing that can help get feelings out of the system is writing down what happened, perhaps in a letter that we don't send, but just use to vent our feelings.
It can help if we remind ourselves that our unemployment is only temporary. We might end up with a better job than we had before. It's best to put our energies and imagination into finding one if we can, rather than into feeling angry about the past.
There are probably lots of good jobs advertised with agencies and on the Internet and in newspapers and places like that. But I have heard one or two horrible stories about fraudsters who pretended to be employers but weren't really, who advertised jobs where they asked people who wanted to work for them to send them money before they were given the job or the interview, and then disappeared when they got the money. The job was fake.
I heard a story about scam artists who advertised jobs as flight attendants and things, and said the interview would be in an exotic location, and that people applying had to pay part of the money for their flight there themselves, sending it to them. When they'd paid the money, the crooks just vanished with it.
And I've heard of fraudulent companies who advertise for people to work from home for them, stuffing envelopes or doing artwork and things, but they say they need their workers to pay them to send them the envelopes or other equipment they need. Then they disappear with the money. Or when the workers have done some work for them, they keep telling them their work isn't good enough so they won't pay them, whatever it's really like. Then they can sell it even though they told the person it was no good so they wouldn't pay them. So they really get lots of things done for them free.
So it's recommended that no one ever pays any money to someone who offers them employment. Genuine companies won't expect that.
Or if work keeps being rejected for no good reason and the worker keeps not being paid, it's recommended that they find another job.
We might miss the money we used to have, and living on a lot less might take some adjusting to. But if that depresses us, we might feel better about our situation if we ponder on the fact that we're a lot better off than a lot of people in the world.
The book goes into a bit of detail about how we're bound to be better off than a lot of people in the world. Here's some of what it says:
A lot of people in the third world have such a poor diet that thousands of children die every day of diseases related to malnutrition.
Millions of people live in overcrowded conditions without electricity and running water.
Only a very small percentage of the world's population can refridgerate their food.
Only a small percentage gets a wide choice of foods to eat.
Almost all people considered poor in America and other wealthy Western countries still have access to a fridge, a cooker, a flush toilet, a bathroom, a phone, a means of transport, and many many other things considered the height of luxury in a lot of other countries.
So we might be struggling at the moment, but we're still better off than we think.
We can feel more optimistic about our lives if we can think of our job loss not as an ending, but as the beginning of something new. A lot of people don't like change because we feel less in control of our lives. But it can be a good opportunity to plan something new. We can spend time working out how we can plan our future the best way we can, within reason.
I've heard that one thing that can help is if we can ask for a bit of time with the boss of the company who've just kicked us out, asking our former employer to discuss our strengths and weaknesses with us, so we can get more of an idea of the kinds of jobs it would be best to apply for in the future, jobs where we'll hopefully be able to spend more time doing more of the things we're best at and less time doing the things we're not so good at, if possible.
People made redundant or laid off because the company they've been working for has been having problems could ask their former bosses if they know of other companies who do similar things who are looking for workers at the moment. If the bosses know the managers of other companies and think we were good workers, they might be persuaded to put in a good word for us.
And we could ask them if they use any agencies to find job candidates. If they tell us the names of some, we'll know those agencies are ones that help people find the kinds of jobs we know we can do, so we can sign up with them, if we want to do a similar job to the one we've been doing.
I know someone whose older sister was working for years in a job she didn't like because the boss was horrible to her. She was fed up with it. But she didn't leave, because she thought she needed the money. But then she got made redundant.
She signed up with an agency and started going for job interviews. I think she got offered two jobs on the same day, in the first couple of weeks! She took one, where she'd be doing more sophisticated things than she'd done in the one she'd had before. She thought it might be a challenge. But it turned out that they expected her to know more than she did, and she couldn't cope with it. So she left.
But another of the companies who'd offered her a job still hadn't found anyone, and they offered it to her again! She took it this time, and she's been really happy there! The people are friendly. And she gets free membership of a sports centre where she goes swimming, and to the gym! Nice!
So it just shows that losing a job might be the beginning of better things.
This book says our unemployment can also be an opportunity to investigate other types of jobs we'd like to work in, so we can think about what other skills we have, and maybe write an alternative CV that highlights them, to send off to employers in those other fields of work.
If we do get a job doing another type of work, we might have to start off at a very junior level, if we don't have experience in it. But if it's something we'd really love to do, then even if we don't get much money for it at first, the job satisfaction we get will hopefully make it well worth it.
Unemployment at least gives us time to think about what kinds of jobs we'd like to do best, and about how to work towards getting them.
It seems worth thinking about the questions in this book, because it might help us get more ideas about what an ideal job would be for us:
Even though we've probably left old friends in our last workplace, we might make good new ones, as well as getting a better job.
It can be easy to focus on what's wrong in our lives and what we don't have, and hardly think about what we do have and what's going well. This book suggests we think about things we can be grateful for, to make us feel more cheerful.
Yes, I know for myself that I can easily start feeling as if I don't have any pleasures in life. But I know deep down that that's not really true. Perhaps if I took written or mental notes of everything I enjoy in life when I notice each thing and then spend time reflecting on them, I'd begin to feel differently.
Thinking about it, I do have pleasures in life, at least when I'm not feeling so depressed I just want to lie around doing nothing. Starting at the beginning of the day:
Maybe if I stopped and took several seconds to notice and be grateful for every good thing in my life whenever they happened, it would cheer me up a bit, and I'd notice a lot more things.
Yes, and there are a lot of things I suppose I take for granted that I could be thankful for:
So I'm still a lot better off than a lot of other people.
I know you might not have all those advantages. But you might have others that I don't have. I think it's worth having a think about what we have.
This book says we can be encouraged to make efforts to do things we might not have bothered with before, and end up thinking the world is a better place than we thought, if we look out for things to inspire us. There are lots of heart-warming and inspiring stories on the Internet. And every so often, there are television programmes about people who've done heroic things or thoughtful and caring things for others.
Or sometimes, we might hear about people achieving great things despite the odds, which might encourage us to think we can achieve more if we push for it.
This book says a blind man climbed to the top of Mount Everest a few years ago.
Oh yes, I watched a little video clip on the Internet where a TV presenter introduced a blind man who wanted to climb some mountain or other - I think it was Everest, and when she was introducing him, she said, "This is [whoever it was], and he's going to climb Mount Everest; But there's something unusual about him; he's gay ... I mean blind." That was funny.
That reminds me of something. I was talking to a blind person once who told me she used to do a bit of voluntary work in a psychiatric hospital, in a part of it where old people were brought for the day just to keep their spirits up and their brains stimulated. She used to read in Braille to one of them. One day, he told her that he was encouraged when he saw her, because he was losing his sight a bit, and sometimes, he felt discouraged when he couldn't see to do his shoelaces up or something; but then he'd think of her, who seemed to be confident and cheerful and walked around the place happily despite not being able to see at all, and it cheered him up, because he thought that if she could do it, then he could.
Perhaps we could do something ourselves to help ourselves get into a position where we'll feel valued and as if we're achieving something worthwhile, like maybe joining a neighbourhood watch scheme or doing some kind of voluntary work.
As for inspiration, we might get some from finding quotes on the Internet about things like peace and happiness and good ways of living life, or we could think of the books we've got to see if any of those contain good advice about that kind of thing. Perhaps we could copy our favourite quotes and post them up around the house.
Actually, I've found some on the Internet. Some are funny. Here are some:
Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live.
Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.
For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.
The mark of a successful man is one that has spent an entire day on the bank of a river without feeling guilty about it.
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace.
How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward.
Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.
A life spent in constant labor is a life wasted, save a man be such a fool as to regard a fulsome obituary notice as ample reward.
--George Jean Nathan
We could look into ways of relaxing, like taking up some type of meditation or something, or soaking in hot baths, or going out into the countryside for the day, or maybe camping somewhere nice.
Some people find gardening soothing, and it gives them a sense of achievement, especially when their flowers or vegetables start growing.
Some people love to watch sunsets, or their children or other people's children playing in the park, or animals enjoying themselves.
Humour can be very important in a person's life. We could make efforts to find jokes we like and things.
It'll be worth us taking time and thinking about what relaxes us most.
We might feel a bit lost now we can't think of ourselves as being what we used to work as. I suppose someone who used to be a postman, for example, might have a bit of difficulty in adjusting to not thinking of themselves as a postman any more.
But we can reflect that we're more than what we once used to do for a living. For example, we might be a parent, a volunteer, a sports fan, a member of a religion, a creative thinker, an amateur artist, a talented organiser, or whatever.
If we can sit down and take time to think of all our good qualities and hobbies, and things we still do in life - everything that makes us what we are besides work, then we can feel better about ourselves.
We could even write down our good qualities to encourage ourselves. Then, we could look at what we've written regularly, to give ourselves more confidence, especially after we've been criticized or failed to get a job. Perhaps we could put the list up on a wall in the bedroom or something.
When people ask us what we do for a living, we won't have to just feel ashamed that we don't do anything; we can tell them what we do besides not working for a living.
It's nice that this book says It's natural for people to want to just laze around and do things like comfort-eating for a while after they lose their jobs. That's all I've felt like doing for a while. But it says it can be healthy after a week or two if we can try to get some structure and purpose back into our lives by making a routine of meaningful tasks for ourselves.
It says it can help us stay alert and ready for the next job, and help us give ourselves back the sense of meaning we had in our lives when we had the job, if we think of finding a new job as a full-time job, and get up at the same time we used to, with the sense of purpose we get from being dedicated to job-hunting. And it can help us stay in a decent routine if we go to bed at the same time we used to, rather than letting our body clock get all out of synch by staying up all night watching television and then staying in bed till all hours.
It says it'll help us keep a sense of self-respect if we dress nicely and keep ourselves looking presentable the way we used to, and keep our house and car in good order. The more self-respect we have, and the more purposeful we are, the more we'll give off an aura of confidence and capability, so employers are more likely to think we can do the job we're going for.
And a good practical reason for dressing well is that we never know when we might meet someone who it'll be good to make a good impression on, because they might help us get a job they know about. Or a job interview might be arranged for us with short notice.
The book says that as well as sticking to a good routine of sleeping and waking, we'll need a decent amount of sleep each night, since not having enough sleep can make us less alert the next day, and we want to be at our best to be able to think up the best ideas we can about what to put on job application forms or say at job interviews.
If we're not getting enough sleep, it'll be worth us looking into why.
One reason can be if it's too light in our room. I heard about someone who said they had trouble sleeping, but then she got heavier curtains, and slept better.
I know it's not good for us to eat big meals too close to bedtime, because the digestive system has to work through the night, possibly while we might be impeding it a bit by lying on it, so we might not sleep so heavily. It's interesting how that's true, when heavy meals can make you want to sleep. But that's what I heard anyway.
But I've heard that it can help to eat a very small amount of food that contains carbohydrates before bed, like a biscuit or piece of toast, because it can release calming chemicals in the brain.
I heard that drinking coffee or tea or other things with caffeine in them close to bedtime can keep people awake, and also that nicotine is a stimulant, so a before-bedtime smoke can keep people awake as well.
I know pain can sometimes keep people awake. So it might be worth some people going to their doctor to get prescribed painkillers. I know some painkillers make people tired if they take them during the day though, so hopefully doctors will know of some that don't.
I know it helps if the temperature of the bedroom's comfortable.
I've heard that exercising late in the evening can stop people sleeping, because it increases the heart rate and body temperature, and those things can make us feel awake. But I think no exercise at all can stop us sleeping as well, because our bodies haven't been used enough to get tired.
I've heard that drinking alcohol can keep people awake, because even though it can make people sleep at first, if it starts to leave the system during the night, they can get slight withdrawal effects that can make their sleep more disturbed.
I know stress and depression can cause sleep disturbance as well. The more purpose we build into our lives, the less likely we are to stay depressed.
I heard a good idea about how if we start worrying about things in bed and it's keeping us awake, it can be good if we keep a notebook by the bed so we can write the main thoughts in it to remind us to think about them tomorrow, and then go to sleep knowing we won't forget them.
Or if we look at the clock and worry over how much sleep we've got time for before the morning, we can always move the clock. Worrying will just keep us awake.
I heard it's best not to read or watch television in bed, because that might liven our minds up and keep us awake, or we'll come to associate going to bed with activity rather than sleep, so we feel lively anyway when we go to bed.
I know it's recommended that we start doing things to relax ourselves an hour before bedtime so we end up in the mood for sleep, like taking a warm bath, perhaps, or listening to soothing music or tapes of nature sounds.
And it's best if we don't nap in the afternoon or evening, because it might mess up our sleeping routines at night.
I've heard that one thing people find helpful if they wake up in the night and can't get back to sleep is to get up and do something they find really boring for a while, so it makes them sleepy.
I know we need sleep for our minds to function well as well as our bodies; and we need our minds to function well if we're going to get the best job we can.
It's important to stay physically healthy, since we'll be more fit for work that way. Exercise doesn't have to be expensive.
I'm glad there are parks around here where I can go for brisk walks. I hope there are some near you. Going for a brisk walk makes me feel as if I've achieved something worthwhile, since we keep being told it's good for us.
Cycling could be nice as well. My older sister and her husband were invited by a couple they met to spend a week with them on a canal boat they had, and they went. The couple had bicycles they let my older sister and her husband borrow. They enjoyed themselves and cycled for some way every day looking at the scenery, since the land was nice and flat where they were. They enjoyed it so much that when they got home, they decided to buy bicycles themselves and go cycling around their home area. I'm not sure how they got on. Maybe I'll ask them.
But I know some people who cycle for miles. So some people at least must get a lot of pleasure from that kind of thing!
I know my brother used to have a bike. It's probably buried amid all the stuff in my parents' garage now. Maybe I'll ask him if it's still in good working order, and if it is, whether I could borrow it.
Climbing up the stairs a few extra times a day could keep me fitter. I know I tried that once and I did start to feel more energetic. So it might be a good thing for most people to do.
I enjoy swimming. I'm glad my local sports centre has a swimming pool. Well, I used to enjoy it. Perhaps I could see if they've got concession rates for unemployed people. I think they also do fairly cheap aerobics classes that I could get involved in.
Country dancing sounds fun, and I know that's fairly energetic. I'll look into whether there are any local groups who do that, and whether classes would be cheap enough for me to afford.
There might be other exercise I'd enjoy doing as well. I'll have a think.
I know experts recommend we exercise in some way for half an hour 3 or 4 times a week or more.
I think it's best for anyone not in the best of health to get the advice of a doctor before starting an exercise routine, to make sure they don't overdo something though.
This book I'm reading says that exercise can cut down the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, and can help lower cholesterol, and relieve stress.
I've been eating for comfort recently, especially chocolate.
This book says a lot of people do that when they're unemployed. But it says that if we at least eat healthy snacks, they can give us energy instead of making us overweight and slowing us down.
It says a good breakfast can fill us up so we're not so likely to over-eat during the rest of the day.
I'm not convinced about that one, actually, but it sounds like an enjoyable thing to do anyway.
It suggests we don't go shopping when we're hungry, since we might get tempted to buy all kinds of treats that wouldn't seem so enticing if we were full when we went.
We could chop up vegetables and snack on those a lot of the time instead of chocolate, and on fruit.
Actually, I do like raw vegetables. I used to nibble on raw carrots a lot. But I found out they gave me a bit of a stomach ache, for some reason. Maybe I ate too many in one go. But I've started mixing them with other things, and so far, they haven't done it. I'll have to experiment more with that.
It was nice that my sister brought me some vegetables she grew in her garden. I know someone with an allotment, actually, so I think I'll ask them if they can bring me a few spare vegetables now and again.
The book recommends we eat meals at the kitchen table rather than in front of the television, since if our attention's on something else, we might not notice how full we're getting and so eat too much.
Actually, I've noticed I do seem to eat more if I'm distracted by something like a television programme while I'm eating.
The book recommends we don't often eat at fast-food restaurants, since their portions tend to be bigger than what we really need and the food's full of fat and calories. Healthier food like raw vegetables and fruit helps cut down the risk of some cancers and heart disease anyway.
It says that although it's important not to over-eat, it is important that we eat enough. Stress or depression might kill our appetite, but if we can make the effort to eat enough, it'll keep us healthy, and that's very important if we're going to have enough staying power for serious job-hunting.
It says it's tempting to over-indulge in alcohol or possibly drugs during stressful times like unemployment, but it's best not to, one reason being since alcohol's a depressant that can make us feel worse than we did before. If we can try to arrange things so we've got good things going on in our lives and we feel as if things are hopefully heading in the right direction, we'll feel better and more optimistic, so hopefully we won't want to drink so much.
It can be easy to indulge in other bad habits as well, doing too much of things we think will comfort us but that are bad for us if we do too much of them. The more fulfilling and happy we can make our lives by planning worthwhile things to do, the less we'll want to fall back on them.
It might be as well to get advice on budgeting from a citizens' advice bureau or somewhere. Anyone who owes money to creditors might be able to get help with negotiating with them to cut down the amount of money paid to them each month.
This might actually be a good time to look into whether we're using our money in the best way possible, because we might be able to make savings we'll be pleased we've made even when we get new jobs.
This book recommends several things we can do to save money:
And there are probably other things we could do. I'll have a think.
The book says it can help if we try and create a budget for ourselves, calculating how much money we've got coming in and how much we have in the bank; and then working out roughly how much we spend regularly; and then calculating how much we've got left for other things after that. It'll probably mean keeping receipts for a while and maybe writing down how much we're spending as we're going along for a while. Then at least we can get a rough estimate of how much we're spending, and maybe work out where we can cut back on things we're spending more money on than we'd like to be.
We can calculate how much money we're spending that's going to remain the same for the foreseeable future, like rent or mortgage and insurance, and subtract that figure from the amount we've got coming in and the amount of our savings we decide we're prepared to spend each month (except in emergencies when we'll spend more). Then we'll know how much we've got for other things, because that'll be the amount we've got left.
Doing anything mathematical gives me a headache; but I'll have a go.
There are things we can do to gard against getting into debt in the future.
It's tempting to get into debt when we're earning, by buying all kinds of luxuries like an expensive car, perhaps, and all kinds of other things, confident we'll be able to pay the money back. But since unemployment can come unexpectedly, it's better really not to do that, since being severely in debt without being able to pay it back for the foreseeable future could be quite stressful.
And it's best not to live in a house with rent or mortgage payments so high we can only afford them if we remain on a high income.
This book suggests that when we get a new job, we could open a bank account we put money in specially for if we're unemployed again, that we could build up bit by bit till it contains the equivalent of several months' pay.
And we could build up a supply of canned food so we've got food that'll keep in case we're ever on a low income again.
The book says that if we borrow money from friends and family, it will give us more self-worth, and them more security, if we make an official note of how much they've given us, and make a pledge about how we're going to pay the money back, for instance in small instalments, one every month; and we could maybe choose something that belongs to us and make it their security in case we don't pay them back, for instance pledge that they can sell our CD's or something if we don't pay them back.
The amount of money we earn or the amount of luxuries we have doesn't have to be what we judge our self-worth or wealth by. We might be talented or fortunate in lots of different areas.
We could consider ourselves wealthy if we know a lot of things, or if we have a close family or good friends. Or we could think of ourselves as wealthy if we have a comfortable home, or if we have hobbies we really enjoy.
We could be wealthy in good fortune if we have a good music collection we enjoy listening to, or lots of good books to read, or if we can relax in a garden and enjoy gardening, or all kinds of things.
We can think of ourselves as wealthy in some ways if we like ourselves in general, if we know we have some good qualities of character.
Or we could think of ourselves as rich if we've done lots of enjoyable things in the past.
If we do good things for others, we can think of ourselves as worthwhile people.
Even if we fail at some things, we can think of the failure as a learning experience and try or hope to learn some positive lessons from it.
But it can be good if we can keep certificates or awards that we got for doing things successfully somewhere where they'll remind us of it, to cheer us up.
If we're in good health, that's a kind of wealth.
It can make us feel more optimistic and cheerful if we take some time to think about the things that enable us to have a decent quality of life. It can be easy to focus on the negatives and make ourselves miserable. But we might have a lot going for us really.
Now, while we've got the time, might be a really good time to clean and tidy and paint the house, or whatever needs doing to it. We might end up feeling really glad we had this time to spare.
I know there are quite a few things I've always been meaning to get around to doing around the house, but never had much time before, so I spent it on doing more interesting things instead, but these other things still need doing, and it'll be nice to get them done, now I've got the time.
I think I'll give the whole house a good clean.
We could clear out wardrobes and the loft and things and sell any old stuff we don't want any more, or give away lots of our old things, maybe to charity shops.
I think I've got lots of old baby clothes and toys lying around. I could give them to my brother for when his wife has their new baby.
Cleaning out the fridge could be a good idea, especially if we might have really old things in there.
I've heard of people who forgot things that were in there and they were there for months, going all mouldy. Actually, my fridge is full of old celophane bags I got vegetables in from the supermarket that I left in there when I took the vegetables out. They could probably do with being got rid of.
Actually, one thing I could do is look through my bookshelves, because I'm sure there are interesting books there that I've never got around to reading before. It should be nice to sit around reading them. Maybe you've got some as well?
And my garage could do with a good clean-out! It's nice that I've got the time to do that now.
And I've been wanting to paint the hall for ages. Now I can! And I think I'll take this opportunity to give the car a good clean-out. Maybe you could do stuff like that while you can.
And I think I'll try getting in touch with some old friends I knew at school but never bothered to keep in touch with afterwards. It'd be nice to know how they're getting on, if I can find them. Have you got old friends or relatives you haven't spoken to for ages? It might be nice to hear from them again if you can contact them.
It might also be a good time to get around to sorting out financial stuff and other things like that, like making a will.
Maybe we could get some plants for the house, if we think we'll remember to water them.
Actually, I've got an old cactus plant I haven't watered for ages! I need to get around to it! I know they don't need much water, but I think it needs more than I've given it!
But it might be nice to get some new plants, or ask around to see if someone else has got some they could let us have some cuttings from or something. Or maybe even some flowers.
We could maybe paint the walls a nice cheerful colour. Maybe we could do the whole house.
I know some colours are more uplifting than others. I wonder if I can think of anyone who did some painting in their house with nice-coloured paint who might have some left. Or there might be other places to get cheap paint from.
It could be nice to put pictures or paintings on the walls.
Actually, I've got loads of photos I could stick on the walls. That would make the place look more cheerful.
Come to think of it, my parents love taking photos. My dad loves investigating the family tree, and in one place he went, he got hold of a photo of his mum when she was a baby being held by her dad, over 70 years ago! He managed to get a copy and put it up on a wall in her house. She loves it! Anyway, my parents love to take their own photos, so maybe I could ask them if they could see if they could find any really interesting or cute or beautiful ones in their collections, and I could put them on my walls.
Actually, I could try making my own pictures with one of those painting computer programs as well. I know my younger sister's daughter loves doing that.
I wonder if any of the furniture in the house could do with rearranging. I'll think about that.
Perhaps it would cheer the place up if the lighting was improved.
It might be good to listen to more music in the background.
Actually, I know that sometimes, I've enjoyed doing things I otherwise found a bit boring a whole lot more when I've put music on in the background.
I've got a load of old junk lying around that it'll be nice now to have the time to sort out and move or throw away. Well, old magazines and books, and other things from when we first moved into this house that we never got around to sorting out before.
This book suggests we could make our houses smell nice with scented candles or incense or potpourri or something.
That sounds like a nice idea.
And it suggests we could plant a vegetable garden so we could have fresh vegetables to eat for much of the year.
That sounds yummy.
It suggests we take time to think of other things that could make the house more relaxing and welcoming.
Actually, it's taken me a while to pluck up the courage to do that!
But this book gives some sensible-sounding advice:
It recommends that even though it might be really difficult to tell the children, we don't delay but tell them as soon as we feel able to after we've lost our jobs. But we can plan to tell them in as reassuring a way as we can. We can give them hope that we're going to look for another job so hopefully we'll find one soon.
But it's only fair to let them know if there are going to be changes, like if we're going to have to give something up for the time being because we can't afford it. Well, at least it's better that they know what to expect, so they don't start feeling insecure because things happen that unpleasantly surprise them.
It recommends that if we're feeling upset, we calm ourselves down as much as we can, and then maybe call a family meeting and let everyone know together, as unemotionally as we can. It suggests we could say something like,
"My company have been making changes that are going to affect us all. I heard today that I'm going to lose my job. You don't have to worry, because I'm going to start making efforts to find a new one soon, and in the meantime a few things about our lives might have to be reorganised because less money's coming in, but we should all be allright, and it shouldn't last."
We could fill in any other details we want to, and then it recommends we allow them to ask questions, imagining we're the speaker at a press conference and they're reporters questioning us. If we imagine that, it might help us stay calmer when we're replying to them, and help us be in the frame of mind to assure them that we're taking charge of the situation.
The book advises that some children might be too young to take plain facts in, so it might help if we tell them stories or play games with them.
Maybe it's talking about stories about people who lost their jobs and had to change things in their lives a bit because they didn't have so much money, but then they found new jobs and everything was allright again. I wonder what kinds of games they mean. Maybe ones where we pretend to be the unemployed parent, [which we are, of course,) and they're pretending they're an imaginary child we have; but we pretend it's days on in the future and we're encountering difficulties, and the game's all about how we cope with them, with us explaining to them how we're coping with them as we're going along, and maybe with us putting on different voices for other characters, like job interviewers or future employers, or people like that. And they can pretend to be a bit upset when we don't get a job, or when we can't afford to buy them something they want, and pleased when we pretend to do things with them like go out to the park, or when we get a new job. Or something.
I remember when my brother was little, I used to play games with him where he would pretend to be my child, and we'd pretend we were going out to look at the trains at the level crossing. He's always loved trains.
The book says it's best to ask our children whether there's anything about our unemployment that worries them from time to time, because sometimes children can have really serious worries that we should be able to reassure them about quite easily, like wondering if we're going to starve or become homeless or whatever. Older children might worry that we're not going to have the money to put them through college or that kind of thing, so if we ask them from time to time whether anything's bothering them and they bring it up, it can be a good opportunity to discuss different options with them.
It can help if we try to guess what questions they might ask, and think through and maybe rehearse answers before we speak to them.
Our children learn from us whether we like it or not.
I've seen that in my own family. I'm sure my younger sister picked up her argumentative way of talking to her children when they're naughty from our dad!
This book says that since our children will be bound to learn from us, it'll be good if we can deliberately teach them some good attitudes, by having good attitudes ourselves, so they hopefully just pick up on them naturally.
It suggests we imagine they were leaving home, and says we could think about what skills we'd like to have left them with, especially skills they can use in times of stress. Then the theory is that we can plan how to start trying to act in ways that'll influence them to pic up those attitudes from us.
The types of attitudes they're talking about are things like:
Actually, I know that the more positively we think, the more likely things are to improve, because the more likely we'll be to do things that will improve them, because the more confident we'll be that we'll succeed and that those things are worth doing. So if we can be as positive as we can be around our children within realistic limits, it'll hopefully set them up to have better chances in life.
For one thing, the better we treat other people, the better people will often want to treat us. Lots of people have probably had the experience of doing something nice for someone and it made them want to be nicer to them in return.
But if we're unpleasant to people, it's obvious that's going to put them in a bad mood with us.
Sometimes, if they're not particularly nice to us, but we're polite to them, it can make them want to behave better towards us.
So again, if we try to be nice to other people as far as we can help it, starting in the family, and our children learn to be nice to other people by copying us, then we're really setting up our children for better chances in life.
If we try to save a decent amount of money, and use the rest as sensibly as we can, I mean, so we don't buy things we don't really need and then can't pay bills or something, then our kids can learn sensible habits from us.
Actually, I remember getting into the way of thinking that saving was good early on in life, when my parents put some money in an account for me.
So doing something like that with our kids, and encouraging them to save up for things, telling them they'll be able to buy more expensive things later if they don't spend all their money now but wait till they've got more, could help them learn to be sensible with money in the future.
That'll be good, because I know how much trouble people can get into when they spend lots of the money they've got on things they don't really need, so they haven't got enough when they need it. It's nice to think the kids might learn sensible habits, so they don't have to learn that the hard way.
If the kids see us having sensible conversations about things and doing nice things together instead of behaving as if only what we want counts, then they'll probably learn to do that with other people.
It's important to relax and enjoy life. If we were too serious we'd get miserable and tired of life more quickly. So if we can set a good example for our children of having good clean fun with them and around them, then hopefully they'll carry on the good old tradition and be a lot better off for it.
If we show we care about anyone who is a bit miserable and we're willing to help them to a certain extent, it'll hopefully teach our children to be more caring.
If we do what we can to keep ourselves healthy, by doing things like eating as healthily as we can and doing exercise and things, then hopefully it'll teach our children good habits that they'll carry on, so their health will be better than it would have been, long after they leave home.
This book says that a lot of people in later life look back and regret not having spent more time with their family. But you don't hear many people saying they wish they'd spent more time at work.
It says people can look back on their unemployment, or children can look back on that of a parent, and feel glad it allowed them to spend more time together.
But it can be a time of extra trouble for the family, since not having much money to go around can lead to a lot of arguments, and the divorce rate goes up when the economy's bad and more people are unemployed.
So it says it's important to look for positive solutions to problems together.
It also says it's important to do things together that the family can all enjoy and that'll make everyone feel as if they like each other better.
If there are big problems, it's probably best to find some kind of counsellor. But other than that, there are things we can do on our own to improve relationships. The book recommends a few:
It suggests we have a family time for at least an hour a week, where we set aside time to do something together that we know we all enjoy, like going out and playing games, buying ice-cream, or whatever.
And maybe once a week, we could all make dinner together.
Eating together can be nice, discussing how everyone's day has been, and that kind of thing.
Actually, I remember when I was little, mealtimes were fun, because we all used to eat together, and we'd play games. One of them was a word game, where one person would say a word, and the person next to them would have to say a word that began with the letter on the end of the word the first person had said, and then the person next to them would have to say a word that began with the letter the second person's word had ended with, and so on, round and round the table.
Or sometimes we'd play Twenty Questions; you know, that game that's a bit like I Spy, but what the person thinks of can be anything anywhere in the universe. So someone thinks of something, and everyone has to guess what it is, and they've got twenty questions to guess it, and if they don't, the person who's chosen the object has another go. The only clue the person who's turn it is to think of something gives at the beginning is saying whether it's "animal, vegetable or mineral".
Things that are animal could be not just animals, (or humans), but anything that's come from an animal, like if it's made of wool, or something like cheese. If it's partly made of an animal product and partly of other things, then the person can say it's animal and vegetable or mineral.
Vegetable things would be not just vegetables, but anything that's come from a living thing that wasn't an animal. So that could be wood, cotton or whatever.
And mineral things are everything that was never living, like metal, earth, water, gases, or whatever.
So the first questions might be things like whether it's in this country, or whether it can be found all over the world or just in one place, or whether it's made of metal, wood or whatever, to narrow things down to make it easier to guess.
The people guessing don't just guess what object it is, like they do in I Spy, but they ask questions like, "Is it made of metal?"or "Is it as big as this room?" That kind of thing. They're not allowed to ask things like, "What's it made of?" or "How big is it?" The people asking the questions have to work those things out, while the person answering basically just gives yes/no answers. Then near the end of the number of questions they're allowed to ask, they can start guessing what object it actually is, when they've found out quite a bit about it.
If someone does guess what it is within the twenty questions, then it's their turn to think of something.
Anyway, it would probably be good to start up playing games again. There might be quite a few you could think of if you have a go.
The book says a short family meeting can be good sometimes. It might not have to be more than once a week, and it doesn't have to last very long. But it can be good to have one, so we can check on how everyone's getting on, or plan things to do together in the coming week, or discuss who's going to do what work around the house. that kind of thing.
The book recommends we go out once a week just with our wife or husband, (or whoever else we might be in a committed relationship like that with) and go on a date together, to make our relationship fun again. It doesn't necessarily have to cost money.
I can't think of anywhere we could go that wouldn't cost money, off-hand. But maybe I'll think of something. Oh, maybe going on a long walk hand-in-hand as the sun goes down or something, if we can find somewhere nice and enough sun. Well, perhaps we can think of things.
We can hopefully find someone good to baby-sit the children, someone who won't expect to be paid much, or anything, if such a person exists. And then go out to enjoy ourselves for a while, leaving discussion of troubles behind during that time. We can just discuss fun things, things that'll help us enjoy each other's company more.
If we look back in a few weeks or months and can tell our relationship with our family improved after we started doing things like that, and that maybe we're getting more love and support from them, we'll be glad we did.
The book says there are lots of articles on the Internet that can give uss ideas about activities we can do with the children, or maybe with other parents while the children are at school - new hobbies, maybe. There might be lots of things we could do where we could meet new people, make new friends, and start enjoying life more, for not much money.
If we think of our favourite subjects to talk about or things we like doing, we could look up on the Internet to see if there are any groups that do those things near us. And there might be good discussion forums on the Internet for parents at home, where we can make new friends and get more ideas for fun things to do.
Sometimes, if our wife or husband's still working, they can envy us staying at home spending more time with the kids than they do. That's another reason family fun can be good, so they can have time having fun with the kids as well.
The book says we'll discover that it's more common to stay at home than we might think. We don't have to be ashamed of it. If we're confident when we talk about ourselves and what we do, chances are other people will be more accepting of it as well.
If we make new friends and find fun things to do, we might start to really enjoy being unemployed!
The book points out that our real job is to do whatever will be best for the family. So if we're doing a good job of making the family happy even though we are unemployed, that's what really counts.
Of course, we'll have to find time in all that to keep looking for a paid job. The book recommends that if we get too distracted by fun things at home, or whatever, we go out somewhere where we can concentrate better, maybe a library. We'll hopefully be able to get on the Internet there, and if we know other people might see what we're doing, we'll be less likely to start doing things just for fun, so we can discipline ourselves better to do more important stuff.
There might also be other things in the library that it'll be useful to look at, like specialist magazines where there might be job offers. It'll hopefully be helpful if we can keep looking through the latest newspapers we pick up anywhere and any magazines that might be helpful to find job opportunities.
But then, we can set aside a room at home, or say we want to work in one for several hours without being disturbed, and it can be as if it's our office. It might be more difficult to stay focused on job hunting there because there will be more distractions, but at least it'll mean we can use our own computer and we'll have everything we want to hand that belongs to us, although obviously we won't have things we might find in the library like some of the papers we might find job vacancies advertised in.
The book warns that if we have to do that, they'll probably still expect us to obey the old rules we did when we lived with them before, or they might criticize us a bit too much, like over how we discipline the children or whatever. So it recommends we have a good talk with them when we first move in, to find out what they expect of us, and so we can tell them what we're hoping for.
In fact, it even advises that we have a talk and set rules about several things that we write down, and that we both keep a copy! It's talking about rules like:
And that kind of thing.
The idea is that if we have a set of rules about these things, it'll cut down on arguments a lot.
It advises that another thing we talk about is whether we'll pay rent. If they want us to, we need to discuss how much, and when.
But if they say we don't have to, it advises that we do something for them instead to show gratitude for them letting us stay there and use their stuff, like gardening, repairing stuff, or whatever we're good at. It's only fair; and also, if we're returning the favour they've given us by letting us stay there in some way, it'll be more as if we're equals rather than being like their children again.
So it suggests we could pay part of the bills maybe, or one bill or other, like maybe the electricity bill. Or we could buy the shopping sometimes. Or maybe stay in looking after the house while they go out for a weekend or something.
That'll mean we both benefit from the arrangement.
The book recommends we have a meeting once a week, maybe for about an hour, where we discuss whether anything can be improved, whether that be household arrangements, or what we could do together to make life more enjoyable, or whatever.
The book says we might feel the need for privacy, and suggests a few things we could do:
We could make time to get out of the house to do things we enjoy on our own for a while.
The book suggests we get up extra early to have the house to ourselves.
Haha! I don't fancy getting up that early!
Maybe sometimes we could put a Do Not Disturb sign on the door of the room we've been given.
We could distinguish our food in the fridge as ours in some way, such as putting it in a carrier bag with a label tied on it with our name on it, or buying one of those dymo tape labelling things and labelling everything of ours with our name.
We could make our room feel more like ours by putting our pictures on the wall or something.
The book says that if it's not just us there but we've got the person we're married to or living in a relationship with there as well, it's important that we have time on our own where it's just us two, where we can do things like having fun together that'll make us feel closer to each other.
And it'll be good to take the children out where it's just us and them sometimes too, so we're giving them attention.
Another thing we could do being together with our parents that could be nice is if we share things with each other that we each like. So maybe if we always used to have a special food for a treat for tea on a Friday night or something, we could suggest that our parents and us all do that together as a treat once in a while. Or if they go out to some kind of group we like the sound of, we could try going along with them to see how we like it. Or if they've taken up going for a walk or something every day, maybe we could go with them to see how we like that. And things like that.
If we're a bit doubtful about how we'll get on with our parents, we could always move in just for a trial period.
When we leave, it might be good to have a party to say goodbye, or at least to do something to show our gratitude to them for letting us be there.
The book says it's common for unemployed people to isolate themselves from friends. It's common for people to be embarrassed about unemployment, and about not being able to afford things easily like we used to, like rounds of drinks, meals out or whatever. But not going out with friends any more can get lonely.
The book advises that we go out with them at least sometimes. Sometimes they might go to places where we wouldn't have to spend much money. And the book advises that we're not too embarrassed to accept offers of the odd little bit of help now and again. After all, we might be the ones in the position to help one day.
But it recommends things we can do to see more of our friends that won't cost much at all. It suggests:
The book reassures us that we don't have to feel embarrassed about being unemployed. After all, millions of people in the country are often unemployed, and it usually isn't our fault. So we don't have to be ashamed. If instead of lying about it or saying it while looking ashamed and self-conscious, we can say it boldly, because we can then go on to explain what we do do with our time, knowing we're doing worthwhile things like looking for a new job, working towards trying to improve things around the house and perhaps in the community, and other things, then we can be proud of what we're doing, and we'll be respected more when we tell other people.
This book says there are several benefits of telling the truth about things:
It doesn't explain why it says that. I'm not sure. But I did once hear a story about a man who was with his boss one day when the phone rang. The boss told the man to tell whoever was on the phone that he was out. The man said to the person on the other end of the phone, "He says he's out", or something like that. The boss was angry with him for not lying for him. But he told the boss that he refused to lie about things, saying the boss could rely on him to be more trustworthy that way. He said, "If I lie for you, sooner or later I'll be lying to you". The boss was impressed.
I'm not sure about that either. I heard there was an old Yugoslav proverb that said, Tell the truth ... and run.
Still, actually, we probably can walk around with more confidence in general if we're not busy trying to cover up the truth about lies we've told all the time, perhaps feeling guilty about them and worrying about being found out.
Yes, I can see how that'll happen. The more lies we're caught in, the less people will believe what we say. And then one day, we might be saying something in deadly seriousness, and we won't be believed, because people will suspect we're just lying like we did before. Actually, something like that happened just recently to someone I know.
I know that even little lies told because people are trying to be nice can lead to awkward situations. I heard about a young woman whose boyfriend cooked something on the barbecue, and she didn't like it. But just because she wanted to be nice, she said she really enjoyed it. Guess what's coming next! Because he thought she really enjoyed it, he cooked them often after that. So she ate them even though she didn't like them. One day, they were arguing about something or other, and while she was angry, she blurted out that she couldn't stand the sight of them! He was hurt by that, since she'd said she really liked them before.
I've heard other stories a bit like that, where people have said that when they were children, they said they liked some food a relative gave them, because they thought it was the polite thing to do; but then their relative started making it for them a lot, and they weren't that keen on it really.
So sometimes, you just can't tell what awkward situations lies might get you into.
Anyway, telling the truth about our unemployment might be the most sensible thing to do, because who knows. While we're talking about it with someone, they might help us think of new ideas about where to look for jobs, or what kinds of jobs to go for.
When we have things to laugh about, it can ease the tension in our lives and make us more cheerful; and when we are, we can feel more motivated to do things that'll end up improving our lives.
Also, stress stops the immune system from functioning so well. So when we do things to make us less stressed, it can function better.
So it can help if we find things that'll make us laugh, and stop doing things that'll depress us unnecessarily.
Things that can depress us more than we need to be depressed could be things like the news, and soap operas and other television programmes and films about people's problems, real or made-up, that we just don't need to know about. The book says it's common for unemployed people to spend hours a day in front of television programmes that can depress them, but We could avoid the television quite a bit.
We could maybe have fun writing witty emails to friends or find an Internet forum where people have fun.
Maybe comics and cartoons would be fun.
We could perhaps find funny pictures and sayings, and cut them out and put them on the fridge or around the walls or something.
We might be able to start amusing conversations if we remember the odd joke or funny story, and tell it to our friends when we meet them. Maybe they'll start telling us jokes or funny stories in return.
I can never remember jokes. But I might be able to store the odd one in my brain. I think some people can remember loads at once. So they could do things even better. But I could always read a funny joke or story and memorise it when I know I'm about to meet someone, and tell it to them, and hope it starts an amusing conversation, or that they tell me some.
The book says it's important to be around people who can help keep our spirits up.
Actually, I heard a story once about a man who felt much better once he was around positive people. He'd felt ill a lot of the time, and was constantly worried and depressed. He one day read an article about cancer and became convinced he must have that, and suddenly felt much worse! The doctors diagnosed him with stomach ulcers and put him on a diet he couldn't stand after a while. But he didn't get any better.
He started feeling hopeless and despairing. But after some time, he started trying to work out how his life had got to be the way it had. Only two years earlier, he'd been working in a job he loved as a salesman. But he'd been made unemployed. He got a job in a factory instead, which he hated, and where the people around him were the most grumpy and complaining people he'd ever met. They complained and got angry about everything, it seemed. He realised he'd started to take on their miserable attitude and become miserable himself.
He decided to change his life for the better and try to get back into sales again, which he'd loved before. And he decided that when he did, he'd deliberately seek out people who were cheerful and forward-looking.
He got another job, and found himself among cheerful, optimistic people, enthusiastic to get out and do things. It cheered him up a lot. And his health problems disappeared. He became convinced they'd been caused by all the worry he'd been doing and stress he'd been under, and that the lively, cheerful environment had made him physically more healthy as well as cheering him up.
So we might feel a whole lot better, at least mentally, and possibly even physically as well, if we manage to find cheerful people to be around. Being with them will give us new things to think about so we're not immersing ourselves in worry about our situation.
But those people might support us as well, when we do talk about it with them, maybe helping us think of new ideas about what to do. If we find people who used to be unemployed but ended up with good jobs, they can share their experiences of how they coped with their unemployment and how they got a good job in the end. Or just meeting other unemployed people can be useful, because they might give us tips on coping.
But people who make us feel down because they're so pessimistic about life and self-pitying are best to avoid while they're like that.
This book even recommends that we start our own support group! It says lots of people might be interested in discussing any problems they've encountered because of their unemployment and exchanging ideas on how they cope with them, but it's not always easy to find a group like that. If we start one, several people in the area might welcome it. Then we'll feel less alone and embarrassed about being unemployed.
First we could think of where it would be good to meet.
If we can think of a convenient place, we could put notices up in libraries if we get permission, and maybe in shops and other places, telling people about it, saying when and where it's on, and some of the things we might talk about.
If people turn up, we could discuss with them how often they'd like it held, and maybe what days are most convenient for them, and then choose when and how often to hold it, and write out a schedule.
We can exchange email addresses and phone numbers with them so we can tell them about any changes to the schedule or anything.
During the groups, we can discuss job-hunting tips; tell each other news about how we're getting on; show each other CV's so we can suggest improvements to each other's, and other things. We should all be cheered up if someone's got good news about getting a job interview or something, and they can tell us how it went.
When we do kind things for others, it not only helps them, but it can make us feel wanted and appreciated, and gratified that we're doing something important or worthwhile, and it can stop us worrying about our situation so much while we're concerning ourselves with other people's needs. So everyone involved benefits.
Of course, we don't want to get into a situation where people start expecting too much of us so helping them becomes a burden, such as if they start calling us and asking us to do new things for them when we're trying to relax. We'll have to set some kind of limits with people. But helping people to some extent could make us pleased we're contributing something to the community and make us feel valued.
There are probably lots of ways we could help other people:
There are probably a number of things we could do.
We wouldn't have to devote all our time to doing something like that. Even just a little time a week might be enough time for us to do something that would be really valued by someone and that would make us feel better.
The book suggests several things we could give as presents that wouldn't cost any or much money but might be really appreciated:
There are probably quite a lot of different things we could think of doing if we put our minds to it.
If friends want to give us things or do us favours throughout the year, the book says we shouldn't think it's hurting our pride or that we're being a burden if we accept. After all, we'd probably want to do the same for them if they were in our position, and maybe one day, they will be, and we'll have a job, so we'll want to be able to help them out.
So if they offer to pay for some food for us or other things, or to do anything else for us that we need, we shouldn't worry about accepting.
It might be worth taking any job, even if it's well below our abilities, just for now, just to get more money. It'll be nice to have job satisfaction as well in what we go for; but for the time being, it might be worth going for a job just to get money.
The thing is that it probably won't be just the money we get out of it. I mean:
It'll keep us in the habit of a daily routine, so it won't be so hard to get back into one when we do find a job we really want.
There'll be people there we can talk to and maybe make friends with.
It'll possibly give us new skills that will in fact come in useful in the future.
And it'll help us keep our mind off our worries.
There might be other benefits as well.
The thing is, there might be jobs that give us a lot of job satisfaction even though they're below our abilities. If we like the friendly atmosphere, it might not matter to us if the job itself doesn't challenge our brains at all.
Actually, I had a job once where I just had loads of piles of magazine pages that had just come off the printing press, so it was like, a pile of page 1s, a pile of page 2s, and so on, and I just had to make up magazines all day by getting one from each pile each time and putting them all together to make up one magazine. If I'd been all on my own, that would've been boring. But since the atmosphere was friendly and fun, I was happy doing it.
There might be jobs out there that are quite good fun to do in themselves, even though we won't use much brain power doing them.
There might even be jobs around that fit in with our favourite hobbies so they're fun to do, or we get discounts on things we really enjoy.
There might be jobs where we learn new skills that are interesting.
Even if we don't get much money for what we do, we'll at least be able to take pride in working.
The book suggests we could sell some of our old things. Perhaps we could clear out the garage and look around the house to see if we've got anything we don't want any more that we could sell.
Maybe we could sell some stuff on Ebay. I think all kinds of things sell there. I heard about someone who found some oily old rope on a beach and decided, as an experiment to find out if you really can sell the most unlikely things on Ebay, to see if he could sell that. Someone bought it. I can't remember what they bought it for now, but I know they put it to some good use. So we might be able to sell all kinds of things there. I've never used Ebay myself, but some of my family have and they like it.
I did hear about people buying things when they were drunk though, that they regretted buying the next morning. So we'd better be a bit careful.
The book suggests that if we're skilled at making things, perhaps maybe if we've made tapestries or done sculpting, or painting or other types of craftwork, we could sell things we've made. Or if we've taken nice photos in our time, perhaps we could sell those. That kind of thing.
Now we've got the time, we could go on training courses to learn new skills that might come in useful in future jobs, or might help us get jobs we couldn't have gone for otherwise because we didn't have certain skills. I think courses at local community colleges don't cost much. It might be worth enquiring at local universities and schools as well to see if they know of any good adult education courses or run any.
I think you can get good online courses in certain subjects as well. I know you have to pay for some of them, but I think there are some free ones, though I'm not sure what you can get free ones in. It might be worth exploring the Internet to find out.
New computer skills are bound to come in handy.
I wonder if the local college would know of places that teach them.
Some people could take the opportunity to improve their reading or writing, or public speaking skills.
Basic accounting and book keeping might be useful.
Language skills might be a good thing to learn.
Or there might be practical courses around in things like woodwork and car repair and things like that.
The more skills we have, the more confident we'll probably end up.
Some foods can make us feel more energetic, while other ones can make us feel sleepy.
I remember a television programme where someone on a diet where they ate a lot of stodgy-type food and someone who ate a lot of salads swapped diets for a few weeks. At the end, the person who'd changed to the diet with lots of salady things said they felt quite a bit more energetic. The person who'd started eating the stodgier foods said they didn't feel so good.
Actually, my mum recently decided to start losing weight, so she started eating more fruit, and stopped eating so many cakes. Actually, she didn't eat that many before. But now she says she feels more energetic. Maybe it's all the vitamins in the fruit or something. Who knows.
But this book recommends other little things we can do to give ourselves a quick temporary energy boost besides changing diet:
We might feel frustrated if we do try to go for jobs that are below our abilities, because we might be told we're over-qualified for them. Companies aren't going to want to employ us in a job where they might have to spend a while training us, only for us to move on to something that suits our abilities better. Or they won't want to employ us in a job if they think we're going to be expecting a higher salary than what's on offer because we're used to a higher one.
It'll be better not to go for a job where we'd take a while to be trained if we're only going to want to move on. But if we're happier to go for a job with a lower salary for a while, we could always discuss how we're happy with that at the interview if we think that might be a concern for them.
If we think we will be committed to a job we're going for for some time even though we are over-qualified for it, the book recommends some things we can do so as not to instantly put interviewers off:
Although it's important for our peace of mind and our future to get into a routine of looking for another job and keeping busy, it's also important to relax. There are a number of things we could often do to relax. It's important for us not to get any more stressed than we can help. We'll be able to search for jobs with a cooler head if we can be as relaxed as we can about it, and take times off where we regularly do things to relax. People make better decisions when they're calmer.
The book suggests some things we could do:
Just sitting still sometimes, breathing slowly, concentrating our minds on our breathing, rather than on worried thoughts or whatever, so we give our minds a break from them, can make us feel a lot calmer.
It can be soothing to go somewhere peaceful, like maybe to the mountains, or for a walk in the woods, or into the garden, or to a park, maybe to feed the ducks or watch children play, or look at whatever else is going on.
Sometimes it's nice to sit by a stream or gentle river.
I remember sometimes when I was little, my family used to stop by a little river, and we used to paddle or dangle our feet in it. That was nice.
Sometimes, the best ideas for how to solve our problems can come to us not when we're worrying over them, but when we're doing something to relax, so our minds have got space to think.
Some people worry all day every day about finding a new job. But the more worried we are, the less clearly we can think, because the more emotional we get, the less the intelligent part of the brain has space to function, because of all the emotional signals filling the brain up. So relaxing can help us think.
And even if we had a job, we'd need breaks from it. So we need a break from thinking about finding a new one.
We could have set hours in the day to look for a job, but when they're over, we could think of our time as our own. The more refreshed we are when we start again, the better we'll be at it. So having time to relax will be good and help us.
The book recommends that people could stop job hunting at 5 PM each day, even if we've had a relaxing break from it during the day, just as we might well finish an ordinary job then; and if we have difficulty disciplining ourselves to stop working, we could even get family members to help us, such as by ringing us at 5 PM and asking if we've started to have fun yet, or telling us they're coming to check that we are.
We can think of the evenings as times to unwind and enjoy ourselves, as we would if we were working. So we can feel no qualms about relaxing in front of the television, enjoying a relaxing meal with the family, or whatever.
We could start the weekend a day early! Since job hunting can be stressful, we don't have to feel bad about taking an extra day a week to refresh ourselves if we think we need it. So we could enjoy a nice long weekend each week, thinking of enjoyable and relaxing things to do with our time, whatever we like.
There are cheap ways we can get away for a break if we want to. The book recommends some:
Actually, my family used to go camping a lot when I was little. It was fun.
That reminds me. My brother told me about something funny that happened when he went camping with them when I wasn't there. They went to France, but I know there are lots of nice places to camp in this country. Anyway, in a tent near him there was a mother and two small children, one toddler and one baby. As if they'd planned it together, they suddenly both decided to escape, both going off in opposite directions at the same time. The mother was uncertain about which one to go after for a little while. The baby was nearest, but getting the baby first would mean the toddler got further away, being able to go faster. But then she decided she would get the baby first. So she did, and put it back in the tent. Then she ran off to get the toddler, but while she did, the baby started crawling away again. So when she got back with the toddler, she had to go after the baby again.
I remember camping by the sea and having nice days on the beach sometimes. Some of those beaches were lovely and sandy, and we stayed in the sea for ages.
The book says that sometimes, people feel guilty about taking time off, as if it's irresponsible and neglecting their duty to look for work. But if we take time out and feel refreshed afterwards, we'll probably be able to do a better job of job hunting when we get back, because we might feel as if we have more energy and motivation because we'll hopefully feel renewed, and our minds will probably be more relaxed.
This book says it's important to have some fun in our lives every day.
It suggests several free things we could do for fun:
Actually, thinking about it, I have had some walks that were quite nice. It's nice to have some fresh air sometimes. It's nicer if you can go with someone you can chat to. Actually, some walks can be really good fun, especially if you're having a laugh with someone, or if it's lovely and sunny and you can stop to sit around and enjoy the warmth and brightness of it from time to time.
And walks can make you feel more envigorated, especially if you're feeling a bit down.
Actually, I heard a funny story. Well, I thought it was funny. Maybe not everyone will. But there was this man who was really depressed, and he told his therapist he wanted to commit suicide. That's not the funny bit! No. His therapist knew that if he tried to persuade the man not to, he'd just insist all the more that he wanted to do it. So he tried something else instead. He said to the man that if he was going to commit suicide, he might as well at least do it in a heroic manner. So the therapist said, "Why not run around the block non-stop until you drop dead?"
The man decided he liked that idea. So he started. But he'd only run around the block a couple of times on the first evening when he decided that since he wasn't dead, he'd stop and try again the next night.
The next night, he ran around the block a few times again. Then he stopped, and realised he was enjoying it.
He started running around the block more often after that, and decided he didn't want to die after all. In fact, he enjoyed it so much that he joined an athletics club and got really good at running, and loved it.
I think I prefer walking. But I know someone who runs for miles every weekend and loves it.
The other day, my parents said they went walking with a group around the city all day, looking at all the sights, and they enjoyed that.
That reminds me of something my mum told me once. She used to work for the railway, and one night they let her go out on the tracks with a few of the men who were doing maintenance work while the line was closed. She loves railways, so she wanted to do that. Anyway, she said they were driving along the line in their vehicle, when they saw loads of toads all crossing the track. Hundreds and hundreds of them! For a while, they threw them back off the track, but they kept on coming back. I think she found out that they were all going to a pond on the other side somewhere.
Actually, my niece has just started going to college, and they give her free membership of the local sports centre! I think she's getting keen on going now. I wonder if they do concessions for unemployed people. I'll have to go and ask.
Maybe the local college would know about free lectures that people besides the students can go to at the college or nearby.
This book recommends other things we could do that shouldn't cost much:
Actually, thinking about it, someone was telling me last week about how she goes to some museums and an art gallery and they're all free to get in. So maybe there are a lot of free or cheap things like that around.
I remember I did a pottery and other arts class at college. One evening, they showed me how it was possible to make paper in a bowl. That was interesting. I wish I could remember more about it now.
Actually, I know someone who makes CD's of selections of songs, and he runs coffee mornings for a dozen or so old people, and plays them in the background.
My brother was in a couple of amateur drama clubs when he was a teenager. He was in a few plays. He was good. I think those clubs were just for teenagers; but there might be ones for adults around that are free to join. Actually, I know someone who is in a little one. She's been in a couple of plays. She really enjoys it, which is a bit strange really, because she's normally quite timid. Maybe doing that'll give her more confidence. Who knows.
I remember when I was little, I went out for the day with my mum. We went to a few parks and had dinner in one. I was eating a jam tart, and a squirrel came up to us, and I fed it a bit.
The book says we can still enjoy shopping while we're unemployed. We might be able to find a lot of things cheaply if we look for them.
It might even be that when we get a job again, we'll still want to shop the way we learn to now, because we realise it's a far more efficient use of money, so we'll be glad we had the opportunity to learn these things.
It's worth investigating charity shops and shops where they sell cheap things, because there are sometimes some really good things in places like that.
This book gives several tips for shopping while unemployed. It recommends we:
But anyway, it's worth being careful about what sales people say.
I remember when my brother was a toddler, he was going around the supermarket with my mum, and he pinched a chocolate bar off a shelf. She didn't notice at first. But when she got to the check-out, he was halfway through eating it! She apologised to the shop assistant and offered to pay for it. I think the shop assistant told her not to worry, because babies often did that kind of thing.
We could find out where sales and markets are on, and we might be able to get lots of different kinds of stuff there. When we go to car boot sales and things like that, we might even be able to negotiate a lower price.
There are clothes shops and other ones around where things are sold that might have a little thing wrong with them but they're mostly allright; but because of that little thing wrong with them, they're not sold on to ordinary shops, but the wholesaler sells them for a lot less. I think sometimes you can get foods with something a bit wrong with them but they're allright really, like big boxes of broken biscuits and things like that. Or the clothes might have just a little hole in them somewhere.
I'm sure I remember going to a shop like that with my parents when I was young. But I'm not sure where you normally find shops like that. There might be a shop or two a bit like that in the high street.
I know there are lots of charity shops, and shops where everything in them is quite cheap, near me, so they might be worth me looking in.
Just as Sunday evenings can be a bit of an anxious time for employed people because they're thinking about Monday Morning when work starts all over again after they've been enjoying themselves, it could be even worse for us when we've taken the weekend off from job searching, because during the coming week, we might have to face finding out that we've failed to get a job we wanted, not finding what we'd really like, going for job interviews, or whatever. So it'll be normal if we get anxious.
The book gives us some suggestions on how to help ourselves feel calmer:
For example, if we catch ourselves thinking that we're bound to fail at the job interview we're going to go for in a couple of days, we can tell ourselves we've got no real reason to think that, and that rather than worrying about failing, it'll be better to concentrate on doing the best we can to prepare for it, so we'll improve our chances of success. Or if we catch ourselves thinking we'll never get a job, we could start thinking about what we need to do to improve our chances of getting one as much as possible. If we start thinking about the times we've failed at things, we can ask ourselves what we can learn from those experiences that'll help us do things better in the future. And so on.
When we make efforts to change our thoughts so they're more positive, our feelings can follow on. So we can start feeling more cheerful. We don't have to think of ourselves as being at the mercy of our feelings so if we feel depressed or something, we just accept it as if there's nothing we can do. We can think of our feelings as being under our control instead, which means we know we can change them if we find out or know how.
Changing our thoughts like that so they're more positive can help relax us. Sometimes, doing other things to relax gives us a brighter perspective all on its own though, because the more relaxed we are, the more logically we can think.
Actually, it can help if we do things to relax every day.
Basically, it'll help us if we have a good balance of things in life: job searching, fun, relaxation, learning, looking after other responsibilities, and looking into other interests we have.
This article is written slightly differently from most articles. All the information in most of the articles in this series is written as if by someone finding out a lot of helpful information for the first time, just learning about it. That person themselves isn't real; they're just a representative of a lot of others going through the same thing. Any little anecdotes they tell about their personal lives or those of people they know almost always have really happened though, usually either to the author or to someone else known to the author. The article comes with a very short story about them to set the scene, and presents all the self-help information as if it's what they're finding out and what they think of it.
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Steven lost his job a month ago, and since then, he's been becoming more and more depressed. He's scared of not being able to find another job. And he thinks his life is becoming meaningless, because he hasn't got much to do.
Losing his job was quite demoralising, even though it wasn't his fault. Now, he doesn't feel as if anything he does is particularly valuable, so he's beginning to find it difficult to be bothered to do anything much, except play on his computer. Some of his family criticise him, saying he's being lazy, but the real problem is that he's lost confidence in his abilities since he lost his job, and got rejected for the first new jobs he tried to get even though he thought he was well-qualified to do them, and so he's stopped being sure he can make a good job of things, so he's stopped trying very hard to get a job. Now, the more his family criticize him, the less confident he feels, so it makes him want to bother to get a new job even less.
But not having much to do just makes him fed up. Feeling like that makes him want to laze around doing nothing, not even doing things he used to enjoy like going to the sports centre, because he just doesn't feel like doing anything. But not doing much just makes him feel worse.
But he thinks he hasn't got much choice about what to do, because he needs to save money. He feels a bit frustrated and upset when he hears about other people doing lots of things that sound fun but that all cost money. He's annoyed that he has much less choice about what to do than them.
When he tries to do things around the house, he can't seem to discipline himself to do them, since he hasn't got any deadlines, so it's difficult for him to motivate himself. So he puts things off a lot. But at the end of the day, he keeps feeling unhappy that he's got so little done that day.
Another thing that's depressing him is that he feels lonely now he isn't at work. He used to enjoy talking with his workmates and listening to them chatting. And now he misses the companionship.
But then a friend gives him a book on coping with unemployment, which has suggestions on how to make life more worthwhile, and he reads it.
It gives him more hope for the future. So much so that he goes to the job centre and signs up for a course on job searching skills.
He meets new people there and starts to enjoy life more.
Since he's finding some of the suggestions in the book about coping with unemployment helpful, he thinks about telling the other people on the course, since they might find the suggestions helpful too. He thinks through what the book says and what he could say to them.